In July TNI and Paung Ku organised the First Southeast Asia Opium Farmers Forum, bringing together some 30 representatives of local communities involved in opium cultivation and local community workers from the major opium growing regions in Southeast Asia: Chin, Kachin, northern and southern Shan, and Kayah States in Burma/Myanmar and Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh in Northeast India.
Current drug control polices in the region are repressive and criminalise opium farmers, and have greatly affect the lives of the communities cultivating opium. However, until now these communities have had little or no influence on the design of these policies. Aim of the forum was to identify the main concerns of opium farmers and formulate alternative policy options that respect the rights of producers’ communities, and involve them in decision making processes.
As the subject is sensitive, the meeting was held under Chatham House rules and the names and places of origin of the participants will remain confidential. This report reflects these views and captures the main conclusions and recommendations that emerged from the forum.
photo by flats!